20 Savings Tips for Christmas

Did you know that there are only 20 weeks until Christmas? No that’s not an error. If like me you are yet to start planning or budgeting for your Christmas then keep reading. I have written this post with 20 tips you can implement now to help you get prepared for Christmas and hopefully save some money as well.

  1. Start a Christmas Savings Tracker –

If you’ve been following me for a while then you would know that I love visual trackers. The ones you print out and colour in as you reach your savings or investing goals. So I’ve created a free one for you to download to help you track your Christmas Savings.

It’s super easy to use. Simply decide how much you need to save for Christmas, then divide it by 20. This will give you the amount you need to save each week.

Example: I want to save $400 for Christmas.

$400 / (divided by) 20 (The amount of weeks until Christmas) = $20 per week

I need to save $20 per week for 20 weeks to reach my goal of $400 by Christmas.

After you print the tracker out and place it on your fridge you simply write your goal savings amount in the blank goal area. Then you write the value of each weekly star in the blank section (eg $20 a week).

Each week you then colour in a star each time you make a transfer to your Christmas Account (See Tip 2 below)

  1. Set up a designated Christmas Account

Once you’ve set up your Christmas Savings Goal amount and have your tracker printed for your fridge it’s now time to set up your Christmas Account. Your Christmas Account should be a separate account to your everyday banking accounts where you can automate the weekly transfers of funds to this account. I find UP Bank is great for this as you can create additional goal savings accounts, and the round up feature is helpful in encouraging you to save even more than your goal.

  1. Buy one extra Christmas food item each week in your shopping

Each week when you do your weekly food shopping buy one extra food item that you will use during Christmas. Then put it into a box or 2nd fridge/freezer (hidden away) so by the time Christmas comes you already have a good collection of food. Only thing to remember is to make sure you purchase items that have a long shelf life.

  1. Make a Present List

Make a list of who you will be buying presents for in advance. If you write a present list rather than heading to the shops aimlessly you will reduce the risk of impulse purchases, and by taking the time to decide on a present you might end up giving that special person in your life something they will appreciate more.

  1. Shop Online, Do a Price Comparison check and use Coupons

We are in the middle of a Pandemic so it’s a great reason to avoid the shops and do your Christmas shopping online. The added benefit of online shopping is that you can do a price comparison through your preferred search engines before a purchase. Lastly as an extra saving use an automatic coupon finding extension like Honey for your purchases. Honey automatically finds and applies coupon codes on 40,000+ popular sites.

  1. Use Cashbacks

In addition to tip number 5 make sure you don’t forget to use cashback rewards (use the referral links below to save even more). Cashback rewards work by you utilising a link from a cashback website (rather than a direct link to the retailer). The retailer still sells you your item, as normal, but they will send the cashback site a portion of the profits, and the cashback site forwards a percentage of that money back to you. There is no cost to you to use this service.

Cash Rewards (cashback rewards program) â€“ You’ll get a $10 bonus once you make your first transaction of $20 or more.

ShopBack (cashback rewards program) â€“ You’ll get a $10 bonus once you make your first transaction.

  1. Homemade Presents

I love homemade presents so much, and prefer something someone has made me personally than a store purchased item any day. Homemade doesn’t have to be overly time consuming either. I have in the past made homemade gifts like Vanilla Essence, Biscuits, or even Irish Cream Bailys (all of which didn’t take a lot of time to make). There are so many great ideas for homemade presents on Pinterest (click here for the search results for Homemade Presents).

  1. Presence over Presents

We have a no adult gift rule in our home. My husband and I are super busy and the one thing we love about Christmas is that we get to spend time with our family and friends. It might sound sappy but the older I get the less I care about consumer items, and the best present is spending time with the people I love. The exception to this for us is when someone hosts an event for Christmas, and we will provide a hosting gift. The added bonus of this tip is that you don’t end up giving or receiving gifts that end up contributing to landfill.

  1. Second hand isn’t Second Best

A few years ago my son was into dinosaurs in a big way, and so I naturally planned to buy him some dinosaurs for Christmas. At the time the popular toys were superheroes, and as a result there were very little choices in regards to dinosaurs. So I decided to head online via Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace, and I found a local lady selling a huge box of her son’s old dinosaur toys. I snapped up the box for $30, washed them and bought colourful gift boxes to put them in. I then placed them under the tree at Christmas, and my son loved them. He didn’t care that they weren’t new in fact I don’t think he even realised.

  1. Plan your Christmas Lunch / Dinner Menu in advance

I’m not sure about you but the most expensive part of Christmas for us is the food. We swap our frugal staple meals for some ultra special and gourmet Christmas items (such as a nice bottle of French Champagne, and fancy seafood). I believe that planning your Christmas menu (and shopping list) in advance can save you a tonne of money, because you don’t over purchase and you can keep on the lookout for specials in the weeks/months before Christmas.

  1. Start a Christmas Savings Account

If you have issues with dipping into the savings you have set aside then a Christmas Savings Account could be a good way to remove the temptation of withdrawing it. I don’t personally use a Christmas Savings Account so I have not included any recommendations or links. There are quite a few out there so when you do search for it via your search engine make sure to check on things like accessibility of funds, interest rate, and terms and conditions.

12. Skip the Traditional Pine Tree

This tip is controversial so feel free to skip it. We love getting a real pine tree each year, but due to a shortage in our state real Christmas trees are costing well over $120 (and the quality is lacking). So instead we are thinking of skipping the pine tree and purchasing an indoor plant from the nursery. It might not be as cool or hold as many decorations, but it will definitely be a talking point at Christmas (lol).

13. Ditch Christmas Wrapping paper

I’m not sure who needs to hear this but there is no rule that says your wrapping paper has to be Christmassy and match the decorations on your tree. Instead consider buying plain brown wrapping paper in a bulk roll, and use ribbons/stamps/drawings to bring them to life. The added bonus of using brown wrapping paper is that you can use it year round for birthdays and other gifts.

  1. Take your own Christmas Photo

The only gift I ask for each year is a Christmas Photo of me and my beautiful boys (including hubby). My husband is the worst photographer (of me lol) ….. and so having a nice photo of me and the boys every so often is the best gift ever. When the kids were young I used to pay for this every year, but as the price creeped up I just couldn’t justify it at Christmas time. So I have learnt how to take my own (semi) professional photos with me in it. Each Christmas morning after the opening up of the presents the boys all know that their job is to get all dressed up for our Christmas photo. I purchased a cheap tripod some time ago and I set it up with our camera on an automatic timer. We then take photos until we get the money shot (as they say).

  1. Ask Guests to bring what you need (and not whatever they want to bring)

If you are hosting a Christmas Event don’t be afraid to actually ask your Aunt to bring a cheese platter instead of that weird casserole that she likes to bring (and no-one eats including her). Be mindful of people’s budgets when asking for a specific item, but don’t feel bad for asking guests to bring items that you need and will be eaten.

  1. Enjoy your Champagne whilst still keeping Alcohol costs low

Alcohol is another area that can get super expensive at Christmas time. As mentioned previously I love a nice glass of Champagne, but I keep my alcohol costs low by doing the following:

  • Buy a couple of nice bottles of wine and save it for the start of the day (such as for toasts). Then buy regular wine for when the good stuff runs out. Let’s be honest after a few glasses of champagne your mum won’t even remember she’s now drinking Yellowtail (this is actually one of my favourite bubbles for under $10).
  • Buy Alcohol Online (click and collect) in the weeks/months before Christmas Day when your favourites are on special.
  • Buy wine in a half dozen if possible as most retailers provide you with additional discounts.
  • Use cashbacks when buying alcohol online to save even more.
  1. Use Loyalty Programs

The types of Loyalty programs on offer will depend on where you live, but being based in Australia I use both the Flybys Program and the Everyday Rewards Program. Both of these programs often have additional incentives and points to be gained in the lead up to Christmas. Make sure you download any apps related to these programs to ensure you’re notified of any new deals that might save you $.

  1. Save your Loyalty Points for Christmas

This is one of my favourite Christmas tips, and one I’ve used for many years. I save my points up for Christmas instead of using them as they accrue. This does take a little self control, but you’ll be thanking your past self when Christmas comes around and you’ve got a nice little nest egg of points to exchange into gift cards (or other items).

  1. Low on cash for Christmas, think about doing some market research

Sometimes saving money just isn’t enough when you don’t have any spare cash to save. With 20 weeks until Christmas you have time to sign up and do some market research (use this link to find a full list of market research companies I’m signed up with). The majority of the companies I use pay out in gift vouchers so I recommend saving these up until Christmas and exchanging these to pay for Christmas related expenses.

  1. Make your own cards

Lastly save money by not buying Christmas Cards, and opt to make your own (or skip altogether). This year we are going to use the kids artwork, but if you don’t have kids you could write your message on the wrapping paper itself. Get creative 🙂

I would love to hear your best tips for saving money on Christmas so feel free to add a comment below. If you would like to have more articles like this delivered to your inbox subscribe below.

Make your own Multi-Purpose Cleaning Spray for under $1

Today I’m sharing my Multi-Purpose Cleaning Spray solution recipe. It’s so easy to make, and I love it because it’s likely you already have these items in your cupboard.

This spray saves us a tonne of money, and I estimate that it costs just cents in the dollar for every 250ml I use. Additional benefits include the fact that it’s low tox, and you can modify the essential oil to match your preferences. I’m a huge fan of using Tea Tree Oil due to its anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties (I also quite like the scent).

Multi-Purpose Cleaning Spray Solution

What do you need?

  • 250mls of warm water
  • 1/4 cup of household vinegar
  • 10 drops of your favourite essential oil
  • a clean empty spray bottle
  • Measuring jug

Method

  1. Use a measuring jug and mix the warm water and vinegar together.
  2. Then add your essential oil.
  3. Mix gently.
  4. Then allow to cool down before filling up your spray bottle.
  5. Happy Cleaning.

Notes:

  • Always do a spot test with any new cleaner to ensure it doesn’t damage your surfaces.
  • As this cleaning spray contains vinegar it shouldn’t be used on stone or marble benchtops (as it can eat away at it, and remove the shine off the surface).

If you use this recipe I would love to hear about it so feel free to post and share on Instagram (and tag me @FrankOnFIRE_ and I will reshare the love).

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How frugal are you? We audited ourselves against 70 frugal tips (Free Printable)

Our family is pretty frugal, and during the last year I believe we’ve cut our expenses significantly in response to the global uncertainty. That said I always believe there is room for improvement so I audited our household against 70 tips to cut expenses, save money and live a thrifty life.

Canstar being the legends they are recently produced the following article which I started reading ‘Frugal Living: 70 tips to cut expenses, save money and live a thrifty life’. Instead of just simply reading the article which you need to read I decided to do an audit to see if there were any areas that my family could improve upon.

If you want to do this audit on your own individual circumstances I’ve created a free printable below for you to try it for yourself

A screenshot of the free printable ‘How Frugal Are You?’

These are our results from doing the audit:

These are our results from doing the audit:

Frugal TipImplementedNeeds improvement
Spending Diary or Regular Expense Tracking✔
Write down your goals✔
Make Savings Fun
(Visual Tracking or Savings Challenges)
✔
Self-awareness of emotional spending and avoidance of triggers✔
This is a constant battle
Join an online community (eg Facebook or Instagram community like She’s on the Money)✔
Start a coin jar✔
Shop at a physical supermarket✔
One shop, once a week ✔
Use a shopping list app✔
Meal prep like a pro✔
Make use of leftovers✔
Use your own coffee machine✔
Swap meat for veg regularly ✔
Buy frozen veggies✔
Never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach✔
Buy generic brand versions where possible✔
Pay bills on time to avoid late fees✔
Monitor your bank balance ✔
Audit your bank accounts to see if you are paying fees✔
Check how much interest you are paying on your credit cardN/A
Phone your bank and ask them for a discount on your home loan interest rate✔
Shop around for your car insurance regularly✔
Review your health insurance regularly✔
Review your personal insurance regularly✔
Review your superannuation fund✔
Track down lost money in bank accounts✔
Review your telecommunications contracts✔
In the last 6 months
Seek cheaper ways to connect internationallyN/A
Avoid streaming on your phone using mobile data✔
Review your electricity and gas use regularly✔
In the last 6 months
Pay yourself first (your savings / investments etc)✔
Use ‘Rounding Up’ programs✔
I do mine manually
Get your bills online✔
Get discounts on petrol✔
I could be better
Get bonus interest on your savings account✔
Organise your tax receipts✔
Check your family is registered for the Medicare Safety Net✔
Keep things in working order✔
Fix it yourself✔
Buy clothes that don’t need dry cleaning ✔
I cannot remember the last time I needed dry cleaning
Make your own greeting cards✔
Start doing Secret Santa for Christmas✔
Check your calendar to save money on gifts (Plan ahead)✔
Delay gratification: Follow the 10 second rule✔
Delete stored debit / credit card numbers✔
Calculate the value of your impulse buys in hours of work✔
Use your local library (including online libraries such as the Libby app)✔
Make your own cleaning products✔
Look for coupons or cashback opportunities ✔
Consider joining a customer rewards program✔
Shop out of season✔
Reuse, reuse, reuse✔
Rationalise your subscription services✔
Price match where possible✔
We need to do this more
Shared expenses: use splitting and repayment toolsN/A
Use air conditioning more efficiently✔
Get your head out of the fridge✔
The kids need improvement
Save on electricity and air dry clothes✔
We are mostly good at this
Freeze uneaten food ✔
Save on water costs by using water savings techniques (timed showers, water saving shower heads etc)✔
Participate in free online surveys for cash✔
Take your reusable bags to the supermarket✔
Collect and cash in (Bottle Deposit Schemes)✔
Check your payslip✔
Grow your own veggies / produce✔
Propagate your own plants✔
Learn for free✔
I need to do some more research on this
Ditch expensive printers✔
We’ve compared ours and its one of the cheapest out there
Know your refund rights✔
Get help from a financial counsellor if you need itN/A
Table – 70 tips to reduce your expenses

The Verdict:

So we have successfully implemented 60 out of 70 of the Frugal Tips recommended by Canstar. In the next few weeks I’m going to work on some of our improvement areas and:

  • Start a coin jar
  • Meal prep
  • Check to see if we have any missing money
  • Consistently use petrol apps and discounts
  • Trial Secret Santa this year
  • Be a little more organised with gift giving
  • Calculate the ‘real’ cost of splurge items in relation to work hours
  • Take advantage of price matching more
  • Put more effort into drying clothes naturally
  • Find out about free study options

Overall this audit has been a really great way to check in and find a few areas to improve upon (and it didn’t take long at all). I highly recommend doing the same and the link to free printable is below:

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Where to find TAFE or student provided services that save you money

A couple of days ago I posted an Instagram reel on utilising TAFE or student provided services as part of my frugal tips. I had a lot of comments from those who also knew about these services (and loved them), and I had a few comments from those who didn’t know about these services. So today I’m writing this article to list some of the student provided services that can save you money, and where to find them.

For this article I’ve completed a quite a bit of research on where you can access these services and have listed them below by category and state.

Hair and Beauty (Massage section further down below)

If like me you don’t want to sacrifice your hair and beauty on the way to building wealth then consider getting a student to cut your hair or do your treatment. TAFE and vocational education providers are always looking for customers for the students to train on. All students are typically supervised so don’t worry you will still end up with a good quality cut / treatment at an amazing price.

StateInformation / Links
SATAFE SA – Location – Multiple see link – Hair and Beauty (Link Here) – They do hair, nail, tanning, waxing, massage and facial services. They offer 25% off of their prices to pensioners and students.
Colour Cosmetica Academy – Adelaide – Link Here
NTCharles Darwin University – Palmerston and Alice Springs – Hair and Beauty (Link Here) – They do hair, nail, tanning, waxing, massage and facial services. They offer an extra 25% off of prices to pensioners.
WATAFE WA – South Metro – Link Here
NSWThe Hair and Beauty Academy – Penrith – Link here
Contour College – Tuggerah – Link Here
QLDKatrinas School of Beauty – Morayfield – Link here
Demi International – Multiple Locations – Link here
ACTAustralasian Beauty Therapy Academy (Beauty – no hair treatments) – Canberra – Link Here
VICVictoria University – Melbourne – Link Here
TASTasTAFE – Hobart, Alanvale, Devonport – Link Here
Table – Student Hair and Beauty Locations

Restaurants / Cafes

Many years ago I completed a short course at my local TAFE and discovered that they have student restaurants that offer high quality restaurant or café meals at a fraction of the price. After doing a bit of research it turns out there are numerous TAFE and Vocational institutes that do this across Australia.

StateInformation / Links
VICRichards Restaurant – Broadmeadows – Link Here
Wangaratta Campus Restaurant – Link Here
Holmesglen Cilantro Restaurant – Link Here
VenU Restaurant – Footscray – Link Here
The Apprentice – Prahran – Link Here
St Georges Restaurant – Preston – Link Here
Prospects Training Restaurant – Ballarat – Link Here
WABentley Pines Training Restaurant | South Metropolitan Tafe – Link Here
SAGraduates Restaurant – Regency Park – Link Here
Tiros Restaurant – Regency Park – Link Here
NSWRubric Restaurant – Alexandria – Link Here
ACTCIT Restaurant – Reid – Link Here
QLDTAFE QLD offers a number of different restaurants across their campuses at Toowoomba, Southport, Warwick, South Bank, Ipswich, Cairns, Loganlea, Townsville, Whitsundays, Mooloolaba and Bundaberg. Link here
NTKarawa Training Restaurant – Palmerston – Link here
Desert Lantern Restaurant – Alice Springs – Link here
Table – Student Restaurant Locations

Massage

Who doesn’t love a massage. The prices in the below range start from as low as $25 an hour depending on your location and treatment. Most of the links below contain additional information on supervision, what you need to bring and hygiene regulations to ease your mind.

StateInformation / Links
VICEvolve College – Docklands – Link here
ALG Student Massage Clinic – Melbourne – Link here
QLDALG Student Massage Clinic – Brisbane – Link Here
Q Academy Student Massage Clinic – Brisbane – Link Here
Institute Massage Clinic – Brisbane – Link Here
Academique Clinic – Southport – Link here
Student Massage School – Brisbane – Link here
NSWALG Student Massage Clinic – Sydney – Link Here
ACTPivotal Therapies – Canberra – Link Here
Australasian Beauty Therapy Academ – Canberra – Link Here
WASouth Metro TAFE – Murdoch Campus – Link here
ACMM Student Massage Clinic – Perth – Link here
SATAFE SA – Massage – Adelaide Campus (Link Here)
Colour Cosmetica Academy – Adelaide – Link Here
Table – Student Massage Locations

Veterinary Services

These services are not as well published online as other student clinics, however I was able to find some student vet services which offer discounts.

StateInformation / Links
VICAdelaide University Small Animal Clinic – Link Here
WATAFE WA – Bentley Campus – Link Here
Table – Student Veterinary Locations

Psychologists

StateInformation / Links
QLDWellness Centre – CQUniversity
Table – Student Psychology Locations

Physio / Exercise / Occupational Therapy

StateInformation / Links
QLDWellness Centre – CQUniversity
Brisbane Health Clinic – CQUniversity
Table – Student Physio / Exercise / OT Locations

Speech Pathology

StateInformation / Links
QLDWellness Centre – CQUniversity
Table – Student Speech PathologyLocations

Podiatrist

StateInformation / Links
NSWSydney Health Clinic – CQUniversity
QLDRockhampton Health Clinic – CQUniversity
Table – Student Podiatry Locations

Dentistry

During my research on student led clinics I found several dental clinics that offer services to the public. Some of these services do require you to be on a health card so make sure you check before you book.

StateInformation / Links
NSWCharles Sturt University – Multiple Locations – Link Here
WAThe University of WA – Nedlands – Link Here
VICUniversity of Melbourne – Melbourne – Link Here
Dental Health Services Victoria – Link Here
QLDRockhampton Health Clinic – CQUniversity
Table – Student Dentist Locations

Chiropractic

During my research on student led clinics I found a chiro clinic that offer services to the public. Feel free to contact me if you find others and I would be happy to add the links.

StateInformation / Links
VICChiropractic clinic – RMIT University
QLDMackay Health Clinic – CQUniversity
Brisbane Health Clinic – CQUniversity
NSWSydney Health Clinic – CQUniversity
Table – Student Chiro Locations

Dermal and Cosmetic Therapies

During my research on student led clinics I found a several dermal and cosmetic procedure clinics that offer services to the public. Feel free to contact me if you find others and I would be happy to add the links.

StateInformation / Links
VICDermal Clinic | Victoria University | Melbourne Australia (vu.edu.au)
Melbourne – Student clinic procedures Archives – Aspire (aspiretrainingclinics.com.au)
WAPerth – Student clinic procedures Archives – Aspire (aspiretrainingclinics.com.au)
NSWSydney – Student clinic procedures Archives – Aspire (aspiretrainingclinics.com.au)
QLDStudent Medical Aesthetic and Laser Clinic – Grayclay
Table – Student Dermal and Cosmetic Procedure Locations

Please note this isn’t a comprehensive list of all student related services in Australia. There are likely many more out there and I would be keen to add more services to this article if you find any more. Feel free to contact me or add to the comments below.

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5 Back to School Savings Hacks

School costs can always be counted on for increasing each year so I’m sharing my top back to school savings hacks. Feel free to add yours in the comments below.

  1. Don’t automatically use the recommended school book list retailer

As I discovered this year it doesn’t always pay to go with the school recommended book retailer. I found this out by accident when I missed the ordering deadline, and had to seek an alternative. I ended up finding out that Officeworks allow you to upload your school book list online so you don’t even need to come into the store. They then pack the items and these can be delivered to your door (or you click and collect). By selecting the alternative option we saved $60 which was then diverted to paying for a new laptop bag. It’s worth doing the sums.

  1. Buy the basic school uniform first

It’s tempting to buy everything in one go at the Uniform Shop to save time, but I have found that by buying everything up front I often ended up overbuying items. Eg buying too many long pants when my son’s only wanted to wear shorts and so on. So now I only buy a basic set of uniform items to get them started for the year, and add to it throughout the year as needed. This hack also helps me spread the cost of uniforms throughout the year.

  1. Work out what you can purchase outside of the uniform shop

Now I know this isn’t an option for everyone, but its worth investigating and seeing what items don’t have to be purchased from the uniform shop. For us we have found that pants, shorts, socks, bags, and hats don’t need to be purchased from the uniform shop. We instead purchase these items from Kmart, Big W or Target. This has saved us a significant amount of money over the years given that the price difference between Uniform Pants and Kmart Pants is about $20-25 a pair.

  1. Buy good quality shoes, but make sure you don’t forget your cashback.

I’m a big believer in buying good quality footwear, and spending a little extra to get something that will go the distance. Something I’ve recently started doing is ordering my kids shoes online. In previous years this wasn’t something I would consider doing as I was concerned with sizing issues / and returns. These days I’ve found more and more shoe retailers are offering free and easy returns to allow people to shop for shoes in the comfort of their own homes. An added bonus of online shopping for shoes is being able to take advantage of cashback offers available at Shopback and Cash Rewards . I make sure to keen an eye on deals in the lead up to Christmas, and have received 10-20% back on my shoe purchases.

  1. Check out your local government entitlements.

It took me a couple of years to find out about the sports vouchers for kids program in my state, however now that we do know about it we make sure to use up our entitlements yearly.

All states except Victoria and the ACT offer rebates to Australian parents who enrol their children in recreational events outside of school. Information on these programs are available below.

I would love to know if you have any savings hacks you use. Feel free to comment below.

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